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ICE offers relief to Libyan students in U.S.

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Libyan students in the United States who have suffered economic hardship because of the unrest in their home country will be allowed to work more hours and reduce their course load, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said Thursday.

“Students whose primary means of financial support comes from the Libyan government or family members in Libya may now need to be exempt from the normal student employment requirements to be able to continue their studies in the United States and meet basic living expenses,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a notice announcing the relief. ICE is the main investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

“The suspension of all commercial air travel to Libya, violence and uncertainty at land borders, and an overall lack of security, have made it unfeasible for students to safely return to Libya for the foreseeable future,” she said.

To qualify, students must have been legally in the United States on Feb. 1 and enrolled in an institution certified by ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. About 2,000 Libyan students are enrolled in U.S. schools.

Libya has been in a state of conflict since protesters rose up against the government in February; since then, many business transactions have been suspended, causing financial pressure on Libyans on both sides of the conflict.

The United States has extended similar considerations, known as temporary protected status, to citizens of countries that are undergoing crises, allowing them to work in the United States for a specific time. That period may be extended if a crisis continues.

The relief for Libyan students is slated to end Dec. 31.

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